The journal of an old gold rush miner is discovered, and within it are hints to where his treasure may be hidden. A second gold rush of sorts is sparked as the book is snapped up by every would-be prospector in the country, all of whom want to find the treasure first. But Amber hasn't even noticed, distracted as she is by the recent death of the grandfather who raised her. On her way to a music festival she'd planned on attending with him, she comes across Marina stuck on the side of the road and ends up getting pulled into the gold rush as well.
Highway Blossoms is a Ren'Py-based Kinetic Novel made by Alienworksnote . It was released on Steam on June 17, 2016. The game is all-ages by default, but a free adult patch can be downloaded on the game's website. An update known as Highway Blossoms Remastered was released on May 18, 2018, which includes some new artwork, full English voice acting, and a Chinese translation.
A DLC called Highway Blossoms: Next Exit was released on September 25, 2020. A follow-up story taking place two months after the events of the main game, it covers Amber and Marina's return to Las Vegas for an alien-themed convention, where they plan to see Tess again for her birthday. They also end up reuniting with Cassi, the candy shop girl, who's determined to start following her own dreams.
Provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: In Las Vegas, Marina excuses herself to go do something personal away from Amber for a few hours. Amber is understandably reluctant to let her go alone in a city like Vegas where anything could happen, especially considering that they don't have cell phones. She gets very anxious when Marina was late to return to the RV and becomes afraid for her well-being. The effect is strengthened by an earlier encounter with Jumbonote , a very creepy trucker who tried to seduce Amber and Marina. Fortunately, nothing bad happens to Marina except that she had a run-in with Mariah who coerced her into playing a poker match for the treasure, which Marina lost.
- Aesop Amnesia: One of the main conflicts in Next Exit is how Amber apparently forgot the Character Development she learned in the main game and continues to treat Marina more like a child she has to look after rather than a lover, which resulted in her being Innocently Insensitive to Marina again and again during their entire trip to the alien-themed convention in Las Vegas, which isn't helped by how she treated Cassi more like an equal than she does with Marina herself. It takes Marina giving Amber a blunt and tearful piece of her mind, even mentioning that "this isn't even the first time we've had a fight like this" for Amber to finally realize her mistake, and even then she notes that it's going to take some time for her to get rid of her old habits, but she'll keep trying for Marina's sake.
- Affectionate Nickname: Amber begins using "Mare" for Marina as they grow closer. Near the end of the game she discovers that Joseph also uses the same nickname for Mariah, due to their similar-sounding names.
- The Alcoholic: Mariah is a rather heavy drinker, and is shown getting drunk toward the end of the game. It's implied that Mariah's mother was much the same way, as Mariah accuses her mother of being too drunk to care about her children.
- All Take and No Give: Amber eventually realizes that she's a Giver and Marina's a Taker. Amber looks after Marina and caters to her needs, but doesn't let herself rely on Marina or see her as an equal. Despite that, after they reconcile, Amber wonders if maybe Marina has been the one helping her this entire time.
- All There in the Manual: The characters' last names aren't mentioned in game, only in a tweet from one of the developers. Averted in the end credits of the remastered version, as the main characters' full names are displayed alongside the characters' respective voice actors. In Next Exit, Amber introduces herself by her full name to a waiter, who calls her "Ms. Golley."
- The Alleged Car: Marina's car (in fact her brother's) ran out of gas in the middle of the road, thus initiating the plot. When it was stolen later, it turned out it wasn't worth much more than scrap metal it was made from.
- And the Adventure Continues:
- Sort of. While they aren't in any hurry to go on another wacky treasure hunt, it's clear Amber and Marina have no intention of settling down and will keep travelling the country together.
- The Stinger also indicates no signs of stopping for Mariah's posse, as they have stumbled upon news of a missing car carrying wads of cash. After the music festival ends, they go on another treasure hunt, so to speak.
- Zion National Park is the first place Amber wanted to go see, and she spends a lot of time talking it up. Unfortunately the weather reduces visibility to zero, resulting in them nearly killing themselves getting up to the top and then staring at nothing but cloud.
- The Treasure Hunt itself ended on this note. After all the exciting race for the first three treasure pieces, Amber and Marina didn't celebrate finally finding the last piece of gold at the Valley of Fire for very long before they both moved on from the hunt quietly. The game doesn't even give an achievement for finding it, unlike the first and third pieces. Justified as up to that point in the story, the focus isn't about the treasure hunt anymore, but rather about Amber and Marina's budding romance and what they planned to do together after the hunt is over.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Joseph says he sticks with Mariah and Tess, because, in his words:Joseph: One of them needs someone to look out for her, and the other's ten.
- The Big Damn Kiss: Amber and Marina share their First Kiss as the sunset hovers over the Fire Wave Trail.
- Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Next Exit comes off this way, as opposed to the more unambiguously happy ending of the original game. Amber accepts responsibility for treating Marina like a child, but they both know that this will be an ongoing problem with their relationship. Meanwhile, Tess has started to come to terms with her difficulty feeling anything, but it's also emphasized that her life in an RV with Mariah and Joe won't always be happy.
- Black Bra and Panties: Mariah wears these, as evidenced every time she appears on screen thanks to her constantly unzipped jumpsuit.
- Blue with Shock: Marina sometimes takes on this expression, most notably after Amber informs her that she bought her a one-way bus ticket home.
- Brick Joke: An early gag implies that Mariah and Joseph had a bet that Amber and Marina were in a relationship, with Mariah handing Joseph some cash when the pair deny it. Near the end of the game, Joseph slips some cash to Mariah when the girls kiss in front of them.
- Broken Bird: Downplayed, as Amber has had a relatively good life. Her grandfathers illness and death (and her mother abandoning her as a child) have clearly left her in the depression stage of grief however.
- The Cameo:
- Senri Kanzaki, a character from another Alienworks visual novel The Human Reignition Project, briefly appears during the music festival, but only in Goofball Mode.
- Also in Goofball Mode while in Zion National Park the girls encounter the personification of said Park from National Park Girls, another game published by Sekai Project.
- In Goofball mode, after Marina mentions her mix tape, Tara from Heart of the Woods can be seen.
- Canon Discontinuity: The scene in which Amber and Marina encounter Jumbo has been removed from the game and moved to the "Legacy Content" menu alongside Goofball Mode, in response to fan complaints about it trivializing the danger two women like Amber and Marina might be in during such a situation, and having Amber leave Marina alone with Jumbo while she lets the air out of his tires.
- Casanova Wannabe: Jumbo, a truck driver encountered by Amber and Marina, thinks he can pick up both girls. Granted he had no way to know Amber at least doesn't swing that way but a greasy trucker implied to be at least in his 40s trying to score with two late teenagers is slimy enough.
- Child Hater: Ambers ability to shut up brats with a single glare becomes a bit of a running joke.Marina: Not a fan of kids?
Amber: Not the rotten ones.
- Closet Key: It's heavily implied that Amber is this to Marina, with Marina realizing and coming to grips with her bisexuality pretty much right before she and Amber get their Relationship Upgrade.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Being a massive hippy, Amber's grandfather was one. A bit of it has rubbed off on her.
- Covert Pervert: It's relatively minor, but Amber does sneak a few side glances at Marina (like when she's wearing Amber's old slightly too-small gym uniform as bed clothes or at her legs when she puts her feet up on the dashboard), but she begins to feel bad about it after she starts developing feelings for her. After they have sex for the second time, as Marina is heading to have a shower, still naked from the love-making, she actually catches Amber watching her in the rear-view mirror of the motorhome and casually adjusts the clothes she's carrying to give her a better look.
- Creepy Child: Amber thinks Tess is one due to her Stoic personality and quiet nature.
- Cuddle Bug: Marina definitely (just look at the picture at the top). Curiously despite being an Emotionless Girl Tess is also fond of cuddling up to people she likes.
- Curse Cut Short:
Tess: Sis said anyone who bothered to get out was a fu—Mariah: You weren't supposed to hear that!
- Lil' Tess was almost close to delivering a Precision F-Strike regarding the difficulty of her crew in getting into Double Arch, which is one of the rock formations at Arches National Park. What's more, the game immediately moves onto Mariah's next line the moment the first syllable escapes Tess's mouth, even if you aren't automatically advancing the text.
Mariah: Quit lying. The old hag is probably too busy choking on a bottle of wine when she ain't busy choking on d-
- In Next Exit, Mariah is the one who almost curses when talking about her mother and Joe stops her.
Joe: AHEM. (gestures at Tess)
- Dark and Troubled Past: Downplayed, but some bits of dialogue from Joseph implies that he, like Amber, has had to cope with losing a close family member. This is finally revealed in Next Exit, where he revealed to Tess that he lost his younger brother Benjamin to drowning a long time ago, and Joseph was as troubled then just as Tess is right now until he managed to pull himself together with Mariah's help (in her own abrasive ways). Mariah and Tess are also given a troubled past as well, with Mariah implying that their mother Really Gets Around with all the 'uncles' she brought home, and that Mariah and Tess are actually half-siblings born from different fathers. It's heavily implied that the reason why both of them are so messed up is thanks to their shared Parental Neglect.
- Darker and Edgier: Next Exit is a downplayed case of this. The original game had its share of angst, but it mainly happened around the climax, whereas Next Exit shines a spotlight on Amber and Marina's relationship troubles from the very beginning. The Trio's Dark and Troubled Past is also explored here.
- Department of Redundancy Department: One menu option in the Extras is "DLC Content."
- Drives Like Crazy: Mariah, whenever she gets behind the wheel of the Trio's motorhome.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Amber and Mariah go on a drink together on the latter's RV to drown out their own sorrows. Amber does it because she realizes she was using Marina all along as a coping mechanism for her grandpa's passing, while Mariah does it because she lost both the treasure and her own pride to Amber and Marina.
- Easily Forgiven: Marina doesn't really hold a grudge against the Trio for scrapping her abandoned car. At least Joe, and to a lesser extent, Tess, seem to regret doing it.
- Emotionless Girl: Eleven year old Tess never shows any emotion greater than mild interest, something that actually seems to worry Joseph. This is actually deconstructed hard in the DLC Next Exit, where being emotionless (or in her words, 'felt a little') alienates her from the other 'normal' kids and even the people she cares for, and she feels horrible because of it because she thought that she's 'being weird' and it'd drive those around her away.
- "Eureka!" Moment: Amber has one regarding the location of the final treasure. It happens when Amber is remarking that people used to call her a "chip off the old block" in regards to her grandfather, which is what provides the eureka. The Prospector talks about hiding the treasure between two prominent standing stones, which has led the majority of treasure hunters to search the area around the Windarch stones, which would seem to fit the bill. However, Amber realizes thanks to her knowledge of national parks that there was previously another set of twinned standing stones in the park, but that fifty years ago one of them collapsed and now just looks like another big rock on the ground...but it's called "the chip off the block", and would have still been standing when the Prospector went by. This leads her to realize that's where the treasure is buried, not at Windarch. Unfortunately, she has this realization right in front of Mariah, who realizes what Amber's figured out, leading to a high-speed motorhome chase.
- Everyone Has Standards: Joe and Tess both disapprove of Mariah scamming Marina out of her half of the gold in a game of poker. Joe tries to have the whole deal annulled, and Tess outright admits she'd help the girls cheat the double-or-nothing game if they asked. Amber wins the gold back fair and square.
- Food Porn: There are close-ups of the various dishes that the main characters eat during their travels, from a grilled cheese sandwich to an ice cream and brownies dessert topped with a sparkler.
- Friend to All Children: In contrast to Amber, who is not overly fond of children, Marina gets along great with them, as evidenced mostly with her interactions with Tess.
- Funny Background Event: Tess silently sliding back and forth across the screen as the Trio attempts to get Amber back into town before Marina leaves to go back home after their fight with a severely hung-over Mariah at the wheel of the motorhome.
- Gayngst: Averted; Amber is already comfortable with her sexuality at the start of the story, and even after working out her own bisexuality, Marina is never bothered by being in a relationship with another woman or any of the usual assorted problems. While they do run into relationship issues not long after getting together, they stem from Amber's fear that she's been unintentionally using Marina as a way to cope with the recent loss of her grandfather and her own fear of what a life with someone who truly cares about her could be like, not because they're both women.
- The Glomp: Marina is fond of delivering these, especially to Amber.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Mariah and her crew have a habit of tailing Amber and Marina, even after the treasure hunt's over.
- Hate Sink: Most of the main cast is rather sympathetic, and even Mariah has redeeming qualities. The same cannot be said for Jumbo, a sleazy truck driver who tries to hit on Amber and Marina.
- Heroic BSoD: Mariah briefly shuts down after Marina and Amber find the first piece of the treasure, since the location it was buried in doesn't make sense if the prospector was trying to head back to Missouri. She has to be led away by Joseph and Tess while muttering under her breath trying to figure it out, oblivious to everything else.
- Hidden Depths:
- Marina is more perceptive than she seems, often spotting Ambers emotional states and triggers and working out her sexual orientation at least a short while before it actually comes up in conversation.
- She's also right that Mariah would be terrible at poker... unfortunately she failed to consider she might be worse. That said, Amber notices that Mariah has a surprisingly good poker face, so perhaps Marina underestimated her.
- She also loves rap music. Amber briefly considers breaking up with her at this, before (reluctantly) admitting the artists in question are actually pretty good (and that she had after all submitted Marina to weird old guys doing acoustic jamming for weeks).
- Mariah has some as well. Not only does she give Amber some solid advice, some of her dialog and alcohol issues imply she's hiding an Inferiority Superiority Complex. In Next Exit, the narration during one of her sections in Las Vegas showed that she's well aware of her younger sister Tess's growing depression because she herself went through the same experience numerous times.
- Hope Is Scary: Amber starts to lose it right after getting together with Marina, the idea that she has a future and someone who cares about her clearly puncturing a hole through her stoic act.
- Hypocrisy Nod: Amber warns Marina about flagging down cars when she comes across her at the start of the game, but does the same thing after her RV breaks down. As she puts it, "Even I can't follow my stupid advice."
- Ill Boy: The Prospector who hid the gold died of an unspecified illness (possibly black lung) after returning to Missouri but before he could bring his family back out west. His journal entries mention a persistent cough that he can't shake and how he collapsed in the desert and had to be rescued by a local native, Lamasi.
- Innocently Insensitive: A major plot point in Next Exit is how Amber always seem to treat Marina like a kid instead of a lover, often teasing her with puns or just going along with Marina's requests without really enjoying them herself, and complaining about what she doesn't like while not taking Marina's feelings into consideration. Things come to a head when the two are helping out Cassi at her booth in the convention and Amber offhandedly offers to invite Cassi on a road trip with them, which causes Marina to break down because she wanted Amber to take her as seriously as she does with Cassi, too, and she gives a piece of her mind to Amber at the top of the Stratosphere, and Amber finally realizes just how insensitive she had been to Marina all this time and they made up.
- Interface Spoiler: Double subverted with the achievement, "Second Piece of Treasure." While the description, "Didn't find the second piece of treasure," is kept secret until the player gets the achievement, the icon shows a dashed line outline of the gold with question marks, all but outright saying that Amber and Marina give up on finding it.
- Jerkass: Mariah, from beginning to end. Even when she's giving good advice and saving the day, she's still casually insulting everyone around her.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Mariah's Quit Your Whining speech to Amber is fundamentally based in Mariah's rather selfish and self-serving worldview, and even claims that Marina was using Amber to get the treasure, which couldn't be further from the truth. However, she is right that Amber shouldn't hate herself for "using" Marina as a replacement for her grandfather, and Amber knows it.Amber: Nothing she says burns anymore. Now it only stings with the acidity of truth.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Amber is cynical, temperamental and not the friendliest individual, but she's rather caring toward Marina, helping her with her broken down car despite just having met her.
- The Lad-ette: Mariah's loud, aggressive, and drinks like a fish. Amber even thinks her motorhome looks like a fratpad upon seeing it.
- Lighter and Softer: Not only does Goofball Mode frequently add in jokes, but the "EZ Mode" resolves the plot in about a minute with none of the drama, and even shows that Amber's grandfather is still alive.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: Marina says Amber reminds her of her father, Amber says Marina reminds her a bit of her grandfather.
- Limited Wardrobe:
- Apart from Amber and Tess's night-time clothes, which they put on just before bed and take off at breakfast, everyone wears the same outfit every day for several weeks in the original game and a few days in Next Exit. Justified in Marina's case, since she didn't bring any changes of clothes with her. In fact, she borrows Amber's old gym uniform for her pajamas.
- Averted with Cassi, who has two outfits- her work uniform and casual clothes.
- Little Miss Snarker: Tess is the youngest member of the cast, and is just as snarky as Amber.
- Lip-Lock Sun-Block: Having just found the last of the gold, Amber and Marina decide to hike the Fire Wave Trail at the end of the day to celebrate. As the sun sets, they are rewarded and overwhelmed by the scenery, and Amber kisses Marina to complete the Relationship Upgrade.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Marina plays the role almost precisely.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: Marina is the fifth of nine children- five boys and four girls.
- Moment Killer: The Trio end up ruining a moment for Amber and Marina at the Grand Canyon, just before they're about to kiss.
- Ms. Fanservice: Mariah is quite well-endowed, and leaves her jumpsuit almost completely unzipped all the time, showing off her bra, belly, and even part of her panties as well. Amber's narration of their first meeting even notes that she constantly looks like she might burst out of her clothes.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Amber is horrified when she realizes she's been using Marina to cope with her grandfather's death, especially after using her as Sex for Solace.
- Nice Guy:
- Enforced with Joseph, as he mentions that he's spent most of his life smoothing over the issues Mariah causes.
- Marina consistently regards Mariah as her friend, and is never long fazed by Amber's bad temper and emotional outbursts.
- Nice, Mean, and In-Between:
- The Trio. Joe is a Nice Guy and the most personable of the three. Mariah is a Jerkass, albeit with a few Pet the Dog moments. Tess is emotionless and snarky, but a significantly better person than her sister.
- The main couple and Cassi. Marina is probably the nicest character in the cast, albeit capable of jealousy and resentment. Amber is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but a good person at heart. Cassi is also rather nice, albeit rather cynical.
- Not a Morning Person: Marina has this trait, which contrasts notably with her usual demeanor. It doesn't take long for her to perk up, however.
- Not What It Looks Like: After Amber and Marina come back from a failed treasure hunt in a Navajo ruin somewhere in Canyon de Chelly, Linda (who also comes to the ruin along with her husband and child) presumes that they both snuck out of the guided tour of said ruin to, well, make out and stuff. Of course, the two deny this.
- Painting the Medium: When Amber is talking to the couple from Wisconsin, she gives fake names for herself and Marina"Jane" and "Lacey." The next time they speak, their names appear with strikethroughs, followed by their fake names.
- Parental Abandonment:
- Amber mentions that her mother had "issues," which apparently led to her losing custody of a baby Amber and Amber being raised by her grandfather. The last time Amber saw her mother was three years ago, which indicates that neither of the two has much desire to see each other.
- There is presumably a reason that eleven-year-old Tess is being raised by her sister, but it's never explained in-game. Next Exit has Mariah swear on her mother's grave not to destroy the present Amber and Marina got for Tess, even while she's drunk, so it's possible that not only was Mrs. Pastorius a terrible mother, she may actually be dead.
- Pet the Dog: Mariah acts like a Jerkass for most of the game, but it's implied in her drunk dialogue with Amber late in the game that she really does care for Joseph and Tess, even though she's abrasive to them most of the time. She also doesn't question Amber when she desperately pleaded with Mariah to help take her to Marina before she leaves forever, and immediately helps reunite both of them together despite having no reason to help someone she considered her archenemy in the treasure hunt at all. Because of this, Amber gratefully rewarded her with her own share of the treasure.
- In Next Exit, even in her abrasive ways, Mariah genuinely tries to find a good gift for Tess's upcoming birthday because she realized that Tess is undergoing depression and desperately needed something to cheer her up, which is why she went out of her way trying to win the antique Kansas license plate in a bidding war with Marina (who was trying to do the same thing, but they both didn't realize they were bidding against each other) at the convention in Vegas.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Mariah and Joseph turn out to be this, after Amber inquires if the two of them are a couple, flatly denying the two of them are in a relationship, though she admits if he's still single in ten more years, she might marry him out of pity.
- Potty Emergency: After visiting the Grand Canyon, Marina suddenly has an urge to poop due to eating a gas station burrito beforehand. She begs Amber to stop at a nearby rest stop, and Amber eventually says yes after some persistent begging.note
- Practically Different Generations:
- Tess is eleven, while her sister Mariah is of drinking age.
- Marina, who's 18, has a five-year-old younger brother, and she's only the middle of nine siblings, meaning her oldest sibling must be much older than the five-year-old.
- Precision F-Strike: When Marina gets upset during an argument with Amber, she ends up dropping the f-bomb.Marina: STOP TREATING ME LIKE A FUCKING CHILD!
- Protectorate: Amber comes to see protecting Marina as her responsibility.
- Quit Your Whining: The first part of Mariah's "pep talk" to Amber. Amber gets the treasure and gets the girl, but is going to throw it all away because she feels a little guilty? Please.Mariah: So if you're gonna hate yourself, find a reason that doesn't suck.
- Race for Your Love: The climax involves Amber enlisting the help of the Trio to get back to Marina before she leaves for home with the bus ticket Amber gave her.
- Raised by Grandparents: Amber was mostly raised by her grandfather, due to her mother being unable and/or unwilling to raise her. She's close to him and considers him the only person who cared about her prior to meeting Marina.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
Marina: I just thought...
- Amber gives one to Marina after the RV breaks down, and Marina's suggestions prove unhelpful.
Amber: You thought? The last time you thought, you ended up broken down on the side of the road. So maybe it would be better for both of us if you continued not to think.
Marina: I just wanted to help.
Amber: Unless you can magically pull a phone out of your ass and call a tow truck, then you can't. And even if you could, you would probably just let it get stolen. You wanna make yourself useful? Go back into the RV.
Mariah: God, you piss me off. (gives Amber a Dope Slap)
- Mariah gives one to Amber after the latter tells her about her guilt over using Marina as a Replacement Goldfish for her grandfather.
Amber: OW! WHAT THE HELL? Why are you hitting me? I just spilled my guts to your jerka-
Mariah: Shut up, I'm talking now. Listen to me, thief! Dead is dead is dead! Your dear old granddad ain't crying up in heaven because you decided to do some broad in the back of his RV!
Amber: Where do you get off sayin-
Mariah: I said shut up. Get over your snoozefest of a sob story. You got the girl and you got MY treasure! But noooooooooo. You can't be happy because of some stupid. phony sense of obligation. AND THAT'S ANOTHER THING! Who the hell do you think you are? What gives you the right to be some self-righteous guardian? You don't look after people because you have to have to prove yourself! You do it because... Because you just do! Okay? I swear, that annoying complex of yours is going to smother you and everyone else.
Amber: But I used her...
Mariah: You call that using? Gimme' a break! I use those slackers all the time! That's using! And ya know what? Who cares? That ditz used you to find the treasure, didn't she? Hell, if anything, you probably don't use her enough! I'd feel like a real jackass if some dumbass were coddling me all the time and all I could do was just sit there. People use people all the time. That's what makes 'em family. So if you're gonna hate yourself, find a reason that doesn't suck.
Joe: In case you've forgotten- and trust me, I know you have- it's your sister's birthday. And as much as I would like to gift her therapy after everything that went down in Texas, this option is cheaper. If you still don't wanna stick around by the time we're there then go wander off to the swap meet or something. Just make sure Tess knows why her big sister doesn't care enough to spend her special day with her.
- In Next Exit, Joe gives one to Mariah that guilt-trips her into celebrating Tess's birthday.
- Replacement Goldfish: Amber fears that Marina is this for her, an easily duped little girl to make her feel less lonely after her grandfather's passing.
- Rewatch Bonus: If you play through the first convenience store scene a second time and pay attention to the dialogue, you can see that Mariah is talking on the phone with Joe about dismantling Marina's car.
- The Rival: Mariah quickly becomes one to Amber in the search for the lost treasure, culminating in a high-speed motorhome chase to get to the third treasure box after they simultaneously figure out where it must have actually been hid.
- Road Trip Plot: Amber picks up Marina on her way to a music festival, with quite a few stops along the way.
- Second Love: Amber was serious with a girl throughout high school, but said girl moved away to pursue her education. Marina had a boyfriend when she was twelve, but they broke up when his mom objected. Marina insists this was devastating at the time.
- Sex for Solace: Amber seems to briefly consider this after her fight with Marina near the end of the story and walking out on her; she ends up passing by what is heavily implied to be a lesbian bar and catches the eye of an attractive young woman inside, but ultimately backs off and ends up running into the desert. Likewise, the fight itself is brought on after Amber and Marina have sex for the first time after Marina tries to comfort her when the reality of Amber's grandfather's death finally hits her and leads to them sleeping together. The idea that she might have been trying to use Marina for this and that she might have forced her into it are what leads Amber to try to end the relationship, but after they've patched things up, Marina assures Amber that if she hadn't wanted to, she would have said so.
- Goofball Mode's Extreme difficulty, where Amber and Marina's travels take place in real time, is a reference to Desert Bus. There's even an achievement called "Desert RV" for completing the first drive.
- Also in Goofball Mode, after getting flagged down at the beginning, Amber tells Marina that isn't a good idea, because of the implications.
- In the diner before Arches National Park, Marina colors the eggs green, then calls Amber, "Sam-I-Amber."
- Silliness Switch: After completing the game once, you can play through "Goofball Mode", which is mostly the same but adds various memes and lampshading of tropes throughout, or "EZ Mode", which goes through the story in about a minute and is hilarious.
- Smash Cut: In EZ Mode, the scene abruptly jumps from Amber's RV to the music festival at the end.
- Speak in Unison: Amber and Mariah often say the exact same thing at the same time.
- The Stinger: A post-credits scene features the Trio at the music festival, having bought tickets from a scalper, before going off on another treasure hunt.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- The second sex scene sees Marina take the lead, which is as awkward as you might imagine considering she's a virgin who's considered herself straight up to now. Amber eventually fakes a orgasm, considering they might be here all night otherwise.
- Their first sex scene has an issue too. Does it seem weird to you that Amber went from breaking down over the loss of her grandfather to having passionate sex with Marina at the drop of a hat? Because it should.
- After unlocking the Goofball Mode by completing the game, one of the options is to play the game in "Extreme" difficulty, which involves an unskippable timer popping up that forces you to play the game in real time whenever the characters are driving a long distance or sleeping (the girls' very first trip down the road to a gas station freezes the game for 30 minutes, and it just gets worse from there).
- The DLC Next Exit is all about this:
- The Trio's (Mariah in particular) rather directionless lifestyle turns out to be actually pretty harmful to them, with Mariah constantly being on the run from the police, Tess becoming an Emotionless Girl because she doesn't get to live her childhood like other kids and she's hurting inside because of it, and Joseph - the Only Sane Man - is struggling hard to keep the group together.
- Old habits die hard. As the story only takes place a couple months after the main game, Amber is still treating Marina more like a kid she needs to take care of instead of a lover, something that frustrates Marina to no end, even if she knows that Amber doesn't really mean to do it. It takes Marina finally giving Amber a piece of her mind on top of the Statosphere for it to finally sink in to Amber about how she's been treating her, and even then she herself admits that it's going to take some time for her to grow out of it, but she'll keep trying for Marina's sake.
- Survivor Guilt: Amber blames herself for her grandfather's passing, believing that she could have done more to improve his health and that she failed him, the only person in her life who loved her before that point. It gets deep enough that it interferes with her relationship with Marina later on.
- Sweet Tooth: Marina likes drinking chocolate milk with chocolate chip pancakes. Amber is amazed she doesn't have cavities.
- Switching P.O.V.: The main game is entirely from Amber's perspective, but Next Exit includes sections from Marina's POV, and has a third-person narrator for the Trio.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Amber's reaction after learning that the third treasure is buried in Arches National Park, between one of the two thousand arches in the park. Even Marina immediately understands Amber's explanation of why it will be hard to search for the treasure there.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Amber being the tomboy and Marina the girly girl, naturally. Downplayed a bit, though. Amber's rather emotional, and Marina is still perfectly willing to go hiking with Amber (while wearing a dress).
- Tragic Keepsake:
- Amber's grandfather's mix tape is this for her. Shortly before the end of the game, his RV's tape deck chews it up, and Amber later buries it in the desert.
- Next Exit reveals that Joe's dog tags belonged to his dead brother.
- The Unreveal: It's never revealed what happened to the second box of treasure; if someone already found it or if it was even in the Mummy Cave to begin with. Likewise, it's never explained what gift Marina was trying to get Amber in Vegas before she got waylaid by Mariah and the rest of the Trio, as Marina still refuses to divulge that information afterwards. The latter is eventually revealed in Next Exit, Marina was trying to buy a pair of new mobile phones for herself and Amber. Because she wanted to buy them without bothering Amber for money, she tried to earn some for herself and eventually got waylaid by Mariah.
- Unknown Rival: In Next Exit, Marina and Mariah are looking for a present for Tess's birthday. Both of them happened to target the same object: a fancy Kansas license plate, in an antique booth at the convention, and so they engaged in a vicious bidding war against each other for it, unaware about the other's identity. Hilarity Ensues.
- Uptight Loves Wild: Actually works both ways. Amber is the open road traveler with no roots, but shes emotionally closed off and lacking enthusiasm for life. Marina has never been outside the state and has a stable family, but is an honest free spirit. They both find the wild qualities in the other liberating.
- Wisdom from the Gutter: Mariah of all people ends up being the one to help Amber out of her funk.
- You Owe Me: After the Trio ends up unwittingly dismantling Marina's car and selling her phone, Amber calls in a favor to get them to lend her their metal detector and shovel. She's aware that they aren't worth nearly as much as a car, although they do help Amber and Mariah find three out of four portions of the gold.
- Yuri Genre: The game focuses on the relationship between Amber and Marina and how they end up falling for each other.